Couple’s love letters bring history of war years to life

Precious wartime love letters discovered by the daughter of a Sheffield couple are the basis of a new podcast series being brought out to mark the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings.

By Julia Armstrong
Tuesday, 04 June, 2019, 18:21
Sons of the desert: a wartime picture of Cyril Mowforth and his army comrades

Letters of Love in WW2 created by the History TV channel stars award-winning presenter, writer and musician Johny Pitts and actor Amy Nuttall (Emmerdale, Downton Abbey) and is an eight-part audio podcast series.

Three months after they wed, Sheffielders Cyril and Olga Mowforth found themselves separated by the Second World War.

A lighter moment in the war for Cyril Mowforth

The first six years of their marriage lived through hand-written correspondence, kept alive on the pages of a thousand letters and postcards.

The letters were found more than 60 years later by their family and now the touching story has been traced through the podcast to give a fascinating glimpse into ordinary lives torn apart by war.

Each episode, performed by Johnny and Amy, follows a back-and-forth between Cyril and Olga which gives an insight into key periods of the war from 1940 to 1946.

They include El Alamein, D-Day and the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, which Cyril witnessed but never spoke of.

Doing her bit: Olga Mowforth

Olga did her bit, volunteering for the Civil Defence emergency services.

The podcasts also look at her life, coping with air raids while worrying about Cyril’s safety.

With the delay in post delivery and some letters never making it to their destination, we hear the couple’s frustration as a brave, tenacious and emotive story unfolds over six years of war.

Each episode features exclusive interviews with Cyril and Olga’s family, including their son, daughter and grandchildren.

Sheffielders Cyril and Olga Mowforth feature in a History channel podcast, based on their wartime love letters. Cyril served as a tank commander with 42nd Royal Tank Regiment at El Alamein in North Africa and in Germany

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Their responses combine emotional reactions to what the couple went through, while also reflecting on the relevance of their story for the modern day.

Cyril and Olga’s daughter, Sue Mowforth, said: “At first I was unsure what to do with the letters.

“Should I read them? Would I be intruding into a personal relationship?

“Would they reveal secrets I wouldn’t wish to uncover? As far as I knew they had remained bundled and unread for over 60 years.

Sheffielders Cyril and Olga Mowforth feature in a History channel podcast, based on their wartime love letters. Cyril served as a tank commander with 42nd Royal Tank Regiment at El Alamein in North Africa and in Germany

“It is so evident from these letters that our parents were continually in each other’s thoughts during those long six years when they were, as Cyril put it, ‘living on the edge of eternity.’

“Yet, as well as being a testament to our parents’ love for each other, these letters are a fascinating insight into a recent period of the world’s history.

“It is that love and that history that have helped to make us what and who we are today.”

Written by leading Australian historical and true crime writer Anna Priestland, edited by Joel Porter and directed by Sam Pearson, Letters of Love in WW2 is available for download on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Acast or other podcast apps.

The first episode launched yesterday, Friday June 7, with the following episodes being released weekly.

The first episode looks at how the couple are first separated in 1940, just three months after they married, as Cyril is posted abroad with the army.

Sheffielders Cyril and Olga Mowforth feature in a History channel podcast, based on their wartime love letters