Letters to a loved one

The Tank Museum Archive has recently received a collection of letters that give a fascinating glimpse into the life of a young British soldier during World War Two, writes Tom Baker

Alan William Harris’s 65 letters chronicle the soldier's war from May 1940 to August 1943, from protecting the British home front following the defeat of the British Expeditionary Force in France up to the height of the North African campaign. The collection is made all the more moving as Harris, who went by the name Jim, was killed in action on April 27, 1943, just days after he wrote his last letter.

Jim’s letters began when he was just 17 years old, writing home to his mother while working as an office clerk in London.

Joining the war effort as an ARP warden, he gives insight into the constant air raids suffered during the Battle of Britain and subsequent Blitz. The next series of letters jump to November 1941, with Jim now 19 and old enough to join the British Army.

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