Mystery of wartime letter, penned in Clerkenwell

EC1 Echo reader Tony Ostrowski would love to find a living descendant to return the letter too.

A photo of the front of an envelope
The envelope addressed to Alfred Hesketh courtesy of Tony Ostrowski

EC1 Echo reader Tony Ostrowski has a letter in his possession from 1940 and would love to find a living descendant of the correspondent to return it to.

On the 10th of October 1940 Clerkenwell resident Pam wrote a letter to Alfie Hesketh who appears to have been stationed at the time at a barracks in Biggin Hill.

It is a fascinating snapshot of what must have been a very frightening and uncertain time. She talks of her experience in the air raid shelter, the constant noise of bombs going off, and Alfie’s sister Alice with her ‘long scarlet nails’ going off to join the Women’s Land Army.

A photo of the contents of the letter
Pam’s letter to Alfie. Courtesy of Tony Ostrowski

The letter was found amongst Tony’s late uncle’s possessions, and he has no idea how his uncle obtained it as he lived in Shropshire all his life.

Tony would love to return the letter to a current member of the family, if they are still residing in the area.

If you think you know Pam or Alfie’s descendants and can help this letter get back to the Hesketh family then please email Tony –  [email protected]

Thank you!

Here’s the letter in full:

                                                                                                                           23 Percival Street



Alfie Hesketh

Number 4 Barracks

Biggin Hill

Kent                                                                                                                 10th October 1940

Dear Alfie,

Yesterday was the worst yet and we spent all night down in the shelter. Twice the whole shelter shook as though the whole thing was going to collapse, and the noise was terrific. We’re so lucky to have an air raid warden like Mr. Briggs, every time something really frightening happens, he always comes down and sees we’re all right – and he’s wonderful at calming down the children, who are absolutely terrified (though not our Jonny, I’m proud to say) who thinks it one endless Guy Fawkes night.

I heard from your sister Alice the other day; she’s joined the Women’s Land Army!! Can you believe Alice hoeing rows of cabbages or whatever they do? Imagine what it will do to those long scarlet nails of hers! (but I’m being naughty now, you know how fond of Alice I am). A lot of the girls are doing it: not least because it gets you out of this constant noise, the bombs going off and the clanging of the fire engines and the fires simply everywhere.

It said in the paper that there’s been a lot of damage to some of the airfields in Kent. I hope yours isn’t one of them. But please, please write and tell me you’re all right.

Mum asks me to send her love with mine.

Ever your loving Pam xxx

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