Eastbourne’s Jeremy Pickard got more than he bargained for when he opened a battered old suitcase following the death of his mother Christobel.
It turned out to contain more than 1,200 letters she had exchanged with her childhood sweetheart, who went on to become her husband, during the war.
Christobel, known as Chris, described her life in the Eastbourne area with her parents and sisters, its temptations and shortages.
She describes the effect of air raids and doodle bugs on the area and on family and friends.
The letters also told of Stan’s service on Motor Torpedo Boats in Lowestoft and in the ruins of occupied Germany.
The letters gave an intensely personal account of their relationship, with its tensions and low points as well as its highs, from teenage lovers to young parents.
They also enabled Jeremy to glimpse the social history of the time, including issues of sexuality and personal conduct, health and wellbeing under the strain of war, and the details of daily life in naval service and on the home front.
After two years of sorting out and editing the letters as well as researching the background, an edition of the letters has now been published and is entitled Stan and Chris in the War.
It is £12 and can be obtained online from the YPD bookshop or at bookshops.