Love letters between prisoner of war and his young wife offer fascinating insight into WWII for Wellesbourne family

"Today as war once again rages in Europe these letters have a new resonance for those whose husbands are away at war”

Alan and Peggy Horton
Alan and Peggy Horton

Love letters between a Second World War prisoner of war and his young wife have formed the basis of a fascinating book by a Wellesbourne author.

John Horton's book - ‘Behind the Wire: A Prisoner of War in Nazi Germany’ - provides a rare opportunity to learn about the horrors of war through a series of love letters between his parents, Alan and Peggy Horton.

"It is a side of the war that is not often told and a story that is worth telling," said John.

John Horton's book - ‘Behind the Wire: A Prisoner of War in Nazi Germany’ - provides a rare opportunity to learn about the horrors of war through a series of love letters between his parents, Alan and Peggy Horton.

"The letters also show how hard it was for a woman whose husband was away at war to cope.

"My parents had been married less than one month when father went off to war and it would be nearly four-and-a-half years before he would return having experienced things that he never really spoke about for the rest of his life.

"Like many military folk this was a part of his life that he buried and preferred to forget."

It is through the letters that the real experiences are told - from the harrowing tales to the truly bizarre, when the prisoners were marched to a nearby town to watch a circus.

John Horton's book - ‘Behind the Wire: A Prisoner of War in Nazi Germany’ - provides a rare opportunity to learn about the horrors of war through a series of love letters between his parents, Alan and Peggy Horton.

"We found the letters in the loft of my parents’ home after they had died," said John.

"Although my twin sister and I knew they existed we had never been able to read them."

This correspondence has been described by the Imperial War Museum as one of the most complete sets of letters they have ever seen written between husband and wife.

Alan and Peggy were married in 1940 and within a few weeks Alan was on a ship bound by a circuitous route for Egypt, a journey of two months from Glasgow.

From Egypt, Alan and his men were shipped to Crete where they suffered a catastrophic defeat; many on both sides were killed.

Alan, with countless others, was taken as prisoner of war by cattle truck to Germany and imprisoned until hostilities ceased.

John added: "They demonstrate just how much communications have improved over the years.

"My mother heard that the Battle of Crete had been lost on the evening of June 2, 1941 but it would be September 8 before she returned home to find a card signed by my father saying he was alive and well as a prisoner of war. It would be four more years until he was released and able to return home again."

Retirement has provided John with the long-awaited opportunity to turn his parents’ wartime letters into a book.

He added: "Today as war once again rages in Europe these letters have a new resonance for those whose husbands are away at war. Some indeed are prisoners of war and possibly awaiting the death sentence to be carried out both from Ukraine and this country."

‘Behind the Wire: A Prisoner of War in Nazi Germany’ is stocked by both Warwick Books and Kenilworth Books, priced £11.99.

Copies can also be purchased direct from the publisher, Gardners books, or by visiting www.pegasuspublishers.com or by calling 01223 370012.