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Home Canterbury News Article
A family are trying to solve the mystery of a long lost love after finding a teenager's letters to her soldier sweetheart – from 68 years ago.
The dusty collection of 22 letters was found hidden under the floorboards of Alan Dearn's holiday home in Whitstable.
The 56-year-old retired pharmaceuticals manager discovered them in the roof of the Bridge Approach property while searching for a leak.
Astonishingly, the letters date from 1946 – the year after the Second World War ended – and are all addressed to 18-year-old soldier Bernard Waters from besotted Joan White, who was just 16.
Her faded handwriting details her longing to be reunited with the young soldier, who was being moved around the country on national service.
In one, Joan wrote: "I felt it was useless to go home or go anywhere without you. I felt as though I had lost everything in the whole world."
Another includes a message to Bernard that he would be able to spot Joan at a railway station as she would be the one "wearing the rouge and mascara".
The letters appear to reveal Joan's unrequited love for Bernard, but the family hoped he loved her back and that is why he kept the letters.
Mr Dearn, of Bowes Wood, New Ash Green, said: "The first letter is from Joan after she had moved away from Whitstable to Bromley.
"She is asking after him and how the job is going. I think they used to work together in a shop in Whitstable.
"I felt it was useless to go home or go anywhere without you. I felt as though I had lost everything in the whole world..." - besotted Joan White in one of the letters
"The second letter gets a bit steamier, with her remembering an encounter under a bridge. I think she kept her integrity in tact as she does talk about waiting until marriage."
Mr Dearn's daughter Lucy, 22, said: "They were in quite a dirty condition and the paper's really thin because it's old so we're being quite careful with them.
"I've started to read a few of them – it's a woman trying to meet up with a man she loves, which I think is really cute.
"They're sweet but sad because the girl is so in love with this man, but you get the impression it might be one way.
"They're written in old handwriting so they're quite hard to read and my hands got black with the dust when I was looking at them.
"One of them asks about meeting him at the station and says he'll be able to see her as she'll be the one 'wearing the rouge and mascara'. The writing style is quite old fashioned and romantic.
"It would be lovely to find out who they belonged to."
The letters start in April 1946 and in one Joan wrote: "There is just one more thing. I love you my darling with all my heart and soul.
"If I know you are thinking of me I shall be alright. Oh I hope the days go fast so that I can see you again my beloved. Write a long letter and answer all the questions I have asked. All my love, dearest Joan."
Joan reveals how she is desperate to hear from her love – saying she "jumped out and flew down the stairs as if the whole British Army were after me" when the postman arrived.
But the romance starts to cool and Joan receives a letter from Bernard's mother in August warning the relationship "has gone too far" and she is "too young".
By September, the romance is fizzling out and in November she sends him the last letter asking to meet up "one last time".
Mr Dearn added: "The strange thing is, it does seem like a case of unrequited love as she's asking after him and asking to meet, but then he is the one who stashed the letters away, so maybe there is more to it."
The Whitstable home was built in 1817 and Bernard lived there from 1949 to 1967.
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