Let­ters tell ro­man­tic tale of war­time love

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Remember When? - by Mike Ben­nett mben­nett@thek­m­group.co.uk

THE re­mark­able long-dis­tance love story of an Eger­ton RAF pi­lot and his wife-to-be has been told in a book edited by their son. Love is in the Air is the Sec­ond World War mem­oirs of Joe Pack and fea­tures hun­dreds of let­ters he ex­changed with sweet­heart Mar­garet while serv­ing over­seas. Al­ways in the thick of the action, firstly in Europe and later in Africa and the In­dian Ocean, Joe was born and raised in the vil­lage. In 1940 he vol­un­teered for the RAF and was posted to a bomber squadron. He flew a Hal­i­fax in op­er­a­tions over en­emy ter­ri­tory be­tween Jan­uary and June 1942 un­til he was shot down over the Ger­man/Dutch bor­der. His eva­sion from cap­ture and re­turn to Bri­tain used the fa­mous Comete Line net­work, in­volv­ing a Dutch in­spec­tor of ditches, a Basque smug­gler and many oth­ers who put their lives at risk to help stranded Al­lied air­men es­cape. On his re­turn he was re­as­signed to fly­ing boats, first Sun­der­lands and then Catali­nas. And it was while train­ing in Scot­land that WAAF of­fi­cer Mar­garet Dil­lon caught his eye. His amorous ad­vances were re­jected at first. And soon Mar­garet was posted to Corn­wall and Joe to join a squadron on pa­trol in the In­dian Ocean. Ro­mance ap­peared off the menu but they be­gan cor­re­spond­ing, and their let­ters chart their de­vel­op­ing re­la­tion­ship and re­veal many de­tails about the war­time lives of two peo­ple thou­sands of miles apart liv­ing ex­traor­di­nary lives. Joe even­tu­ally re­turned in 1945 and a month later they mar­ried.

Joe and Mar­garet Pack at their wed­ding in 1945

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