Long lost letter to wife of captured soldier found after 70 years

Bill and Anne Davison on their 50th wedding anniversary on June 16 1990. [Picture: Richard Lehman]

Bill and Anne Davison on their 50th wedding anniversary on June 16 1990. [Picture: Richard Lehman] - Credit: Archant

A letter offering condolences to a woman whose husband was captured during the Second World War has been discovered more than 70 years later.

Richard Lehman, 63, found the note from Woodford Town Football Club while he was going through his late mother-in-law Anne Davison’s possessions.

In it, the club secretary shares the members’ and players’ grief at the news that “gentle giant” Bill Davison had gone missing.

Mr Lehman said: “The letter was in a jewellery box in her bedroom. It was very old and clearly treasured because she had folded it so many times.”

Bill was the captain of the football club, in Snakes Lane East, Woodford Green, and a physical education instructor.


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He joined the Queen’s Royal Regiment, but was captured at the Second Battle of El Alamein, in Egypt, in autumn 1942.

He became a prisoner of war at the German camp Stalag 17A, in Austria.

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Mr Lehman, married to wife Pauline, also 63, said: “He managed to escape six times and always got caught. The last time he got through to Russia and was kept there until everybody started passing prisoners of war backwards and forwards.”

Bill was reunited in 1945 with Anne.

The couple moved to Hornchurch from Leyton in the 1950s and both eventually lived in sheltered housing there.

The veteran died aged 87 in 2001 and his wife died last month, aged 93.

Mr Lehman, from Billericay, Essex, said: “Bill was very quiet and a gentle giant and Anne was a feisty one.

“Bill never spoke about his wartime experiences, apart from one day, when he did for about three or four hours. It must have been very cathartic to do so.”

Mr Lehman is keen to find out more about Bill’s career.

“He used to tell me how he took the penalties and told me about games. I’d just like to know more about him.”

If you would like to share any memories of Bill please email richard_lehman@hotmail.com.

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