… Park Hall Camp, Oswestry in WW2
With Mark Hignett (assisted in research by Charlotte Phillips)
The Presentation is based on numerous love letters between two servicemen, one of whom, Gilbert, (who later became a Bombardier), was stationed at Park Hall Camp near Oswestry during WW2, and subsequent research in preparation for a book.
The letters, found in a trunk in Brighton, after Gilbert’s death in 2008, were purchased, on behalf of Oswestry Town Museum, over a period of time since 2013. Initially it seemed they were to Gilbert from a girlfriend, with the initial ‘G’. The letters date from 1939.
On transcribing the letters, it became clear that they were between two men; from Infantryman, Gordon to Gilbert. The letters are very eloquent. They reveal the way in which their love was constrained by the moral and legal circumstances of the day. The resolution of this story, potentially, raises further routes of enquiry in California, where Gordon went to live in the 1950s.
Both the discovery of these very rare letters, the enquiries to confirm authenticity and the journey toward publishing a book have been hugely enriching to the museum’s collection of materials relating to WW2.
UPDATE: In 2017, the letters inspired an art project:
Charlotte is a volunteer at Oswestry Town Museum. She has transcribed the many letters from Gordon Bowsher to Gilbert Bradleyley (dating from 1939 to 1944) and has researched their lives and connections; she hopes to write a book.
She lives in Oswestry and is studying for a degree in Art History at the Open University
Mark is originally from Pontesbury and has a general interest in heritage and history which led to the opening of Oswestry Town Museum in 2012, he discovered the letters from Gordon Bowsher to Gilbert Bradley in 2013, he is involved in many heritage related projects and in addition he and his wife are Foster carers.