A love letter penned in Gibraltar from Harry to his pregnant wife Queenie has returned to the Rock almost 75 years later.
Found inside a bag in a jumble sale in Portsmouth in exactly a month from today – 26 November – it will be 75 years since the letter was sent from Gibraltar in1942 by Harry Chipperfield who was then serving with the Royal Navy during World War II.
The letter found its way back to his daughter and family after it featured in an article in the Portsmouth newspaper – The News –asking for any information from members of the public.
Now his brother Ken Chipperfield, is in Gibraltar to retrace his own steps with his daughter and grandson, and brought the story of the love letter to the Chronicle.
Mr Chipperfield, worked in the Naval Dockyard in the early 1960’s and is visiting the Rock today because he wants his daughter Sharon and grandson Kenton Chipperfield-Harrison to know about his time on the Rock and share past memories with them.
But since the story of his brother’s letter was published earlier this year he had also wanted to make it known locally and so the Chronicle office was one of the first stops in this latest visit.
The letter – five pages, double-sided – is about Harry professing his love to Queenie while he was serving on the Rock. There must have been a series of letters as this letter which was discovered and published in February is numbered ‘No. 2’ and was sent from the ‘Pay Office, R.N. Air Station, Gibraltar’.
Clutching the aged letter Ken, Sharon and Kenton walked into the Chronicle office to share Harry and Queenie’s love story.
It appears Harry had written letters to Queenie almost every day for two years whilst he was stationed on the Rock. His daughter Diana who had a suitcase filled with letters from her mother to her father had none from her father to her mother until this letter appeared in the newspaper.
Luckily Ken picked up that edition of the Portsmouth newspaper and called his niece Diana.
“I was overwhelmed,” Ken said.
“I phoned her up and luckily I bought the paper that day as I didn’t buy it every day. As soon as I read it I thought right better get on the phone with her.”
Sharon added that it was quite a shock for the family.
“We all thought how have they found a letter from Uncle Harry?” Sharon said.
Ken spoke of Harry fondly, remembering how his brother had travelled across the globe with the navy to places such as Sierra Leone.
During the war Queenie had become a welder in the dockyard in Portsmouth, and Ken followed in her footsteps even working under the same tutors.
By the end of his Naval career Harry had been promoted to Chief Petty Officer and had been awarded an MBE. Queenie sadly since passed away at the age of 47.