The letters my Uncle wrote make the war very personal and it is
difficult now for us to imagine the terrible conditions that they
were written under. Once he wrote in the dark, barely being able to
see the words, fearing it would be his last letter to his beloved
wife. We who are now reading these personal words know how the war
ended. We know who won and when. I know he was in Italy for six
months after peace was declared. He and other soldiers did not have
this hindsight as we who are reading them have. We can generalize
and call the men of 'the Div' courageous, hard working, solid
soldiers but individually each had to get through each day the best
they could. I think the letters my Uncle wrote home kept him sane.
They seemed therapeutic to him, writing to my Aunt as if he was
talking to her. Uncle sent many presents home, three times as many
as his mates he says. The gifts he sent seem commonplace to us
today but were items not seen in New Zealand in the 1940s making
them unique treasures. The concern in Uncle's letters that the
parcels would arrive safely and the cables sent confirming arrival,
often many months later, proves how important they were both to
sender and receiver. Gifts sent from Italy and precious soap,
sweets and cake sent from New Zealand were received with the
knowledge that love had also been enclosed. I am sure they were
more important than we can ever imagine.
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