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    AC Benus
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

The Great Mirror of Same-Sex Love - Prose - 59. Brian Keith “…Dear Dave…”

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Sleep Well My Love:

Goldfrapp Bases Song on Tender Letter from One World War II Soldier to Another

 

 

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The tear-jerker of a letter below was written by a World War II veteran named Brian Keith to another soldier, known only as “Dave.” The two began their romance in 1943 while stationed in North Africa together. This letter commemorated that anniversary.

It was first re-printed for wide distribution in 1961, by pioneering Gay publication, ONE Magazine. But this love letter could very well have never seen the light of day. ONE put out their first issue in 1953, and brazenly sold on the streets of Los Angeles. In 1954 the magazine faced obscenity charges from the U.S. Post Office Department. They sued, and in 1958, won in a Supreme Court trial that set new legal precedent for First Amendment protections. ONE Magazine ran until 1967.

 

Dear Dave,

 

This is in memory of an anniversary – the anniversary of October 27th, 1943, when I first heard you singing in North Africa. That song brings memories of the happiest times I’ve ever known. Memories of a G.I. show troop – curtains made from barrage balloons – spotlights made from cocoa cans – rehearsals that ran late into the evenings – and a handsome boy with a wonderful tenor voice. Opening night at a theatre in Canastel [Algeria] – perhaps a bit too much muscatel, and someone who understood. Exciting days playing in the beautiful and stately Municipal Opera House in Oran – a misunderstanding – an understanding in the wings just before opening chorus.

 

Drinks at “Coq d’or” – dinner at the “Auberge” – a ring and promise given. The show 1st Armoured – muscatel, scotch, wine – someone who had to be carried from the truck and put to bed in his tent. A night of pouring rain and two very soaked G.I.s beneath a solitary tree on an African plain. A borrowed French convertible – a warm sulphur spring, the cool Mediterranean, and a picnic of “rations” and hot cokes. Two lieutenants who were smart enough to know the score, but not smart enough to realize that we wanted to be alone. A screwball piano player – competition – miserable days and lonely nights. The cold, windy night we crawled through the window of a G.I. theatre and fell asleep on a cot backstage, locked in each other’s arms – the shock when we awoke and realized that miraculously we hadn’t been discovered. A fast drive to a cliff above the sea – pictures taken, and a stop amid the purple grapes and cool leaves of a vineyard.

 

The happiness when told we were going home – and the misery when we learned that we would not be going together. Fond goodbyes on a secluded beach beneath the star-studded velvet of an African night, and the tears that would not be stopped as I stood atop the sea-wall and watched your convoy disappear over the horizon.

 

We vowed we’d be together again “back home,” but fate knew better – you never got there. And so, Dave, I hope that wherever you are, these memories are as precious to you as they are to me.

 

Goodnight, sleep well my love.

 

Brian Keith

 

 

Goldfrapp’s moving “Clay” from their latest long-player, Tales of Us, is based on the letter. Here they are: […]

 

https://youtu.be/dDjjtV-hq4w

 

 

Via Letters of Note

—blog “Dangerous Minds,” [i]

December 23rd, 2013

(originally credited to

an Amber Frost post)

 

 

 


[i] “Sleep Well My Love” blog entry by “Dangerous Minds”

https://dangerousminds.net/comments/sleep_well_my_love_goldfrapp_bases_song_on_tender_letter_from_one_world_war

Based on an original blog entry by Amber Frost, February 27th, 2013

https://lettersofnote.com/2013/02/27/sleep-well-my-love/

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Copyright © 2021 AC Benus; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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What an amazing letter. I’m glad you’ve posted it here. My mind reels the images by inner eye like a movie. 

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1 hour ago, Parker Owens said:

What an amazing letter. I’m glad you’ve posted it here. My mind reels the images by inner eye like a movie. 

Thanks, Parker. I know One published more letters like this from men and women in uniform. I will have to go digging in their miraculously preserved archive, which is slowly being put online   

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84Mags

Posted (edited)

I can’t imagine the total sense of loss and grief, yet not being able to openly share it with others. 

The National WW II Museum in New Orleans used to have a few letters that could be accessed through their website, but I tried searching before commenting and couldn’t locate them. 

 

Edited by 84Mags
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1 hour ago, 84Mags said:

I can’t imagine the total sense of loss and grief, yet not being able to openly share it with others. 

The National WW II Museum in New Orleans used to have a few letters that could be accessed through their website, but I tried searching before commenting and couldn’t locate them. 

 

Thanks, 84Mags. Gay material like this is particularly vulnerable to destruction. The historian James Gardiner bought arguably the most important 20 century archive of the life of a male couple -- completely by accident. He was visiting a resort town in the early 90s, popped in the local auction house and pulled out a box hidden under the table. There were more, all full of photographs, scrap books and letters from Ralph Hall and Monty Glover, who had been partners for 5 decades. This includes all of Hall's letters from his time in uniform and deployment during WW2. If not for James Gardiner, the archive would have been split and lost to history, as Glover's relatives had been the ones to ship everything from the men's home to the auction floor after Ralph passed in the late 80s.

Historian Lucy London has recently brought the existence of another such WW2 archive to my attention, which an English museum director found for sale, piecemeal, on ebay. That man says he bought the first lot thinking they were "normal" (his word), and repulsed once he realized who the parties were (two men in uniform). Nevertheless, he read on and found the love letters to be truly historic and began buying as many pieces of the archive as he could,* still piecemeal and no doubt scattered. This historian publicized his work, looking for a publisher, and before the pandemic was hopeful of finding one. There have been no updates on a book ...      

The good news / bad news about the Hall / Glover archive is: Gardiner has published some of the material; most (90%) remains unpublished and unaccessible for research because Gardiner has yet to settle the collection with an institution. 

 

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*nowadays, the ebay seller is the other side of the commercial funnel, once lots, like the kind Gardiner found, are bought at local auctions and re-sold for as much as possible online, which always means piece by piece.         

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84Mags

Posted (edited)

10 hours ago, AC Benus said:

Thanks, 84Mags. Gay material like this is particularly vulnerable to destruction. The historian James Gardiner bought arguably the most important 20 century archive of the life of a male couple -- completely by accident. He was visiting a resort town in the early 90s, popped in the local auction house and pulled out a box hidden under the table. There were more, all full of photographs, scrap books and letters from Ralph Hall and Monty Glover, who had been partners for 5 decades. This includes all of Hall's letters from his time in uniform and deployment during WW2. If not for James Gardiner, the archive would have been split and lost to history, as Glover's relatives had been the ones to ship everything from the men's home to the auction floor after Ralph passed in the late 80s.

Historian Lucy London has recently brought the existence of another such WW2 archive to my attention, which an English museum director found for sale, piecemeal, on ebay. That man says he bought the first lot thinking they were "normal" (his word), and repulsed once he realized who the parties were (two men in uniform). Nevertheless, he read on and found the love letters to be truly historic and began buying as many pieces of the archive as he could,* still piecemeal and no doubt scattered. This historian publicized his work, looking for a publisher, and before the pandemic was hopeful of finding one. There have been no updates on a book ...      

The good news / bad news about the Hall / Glover archive is: Gardiner has published some of the material; most (90%) remains unpublished and unaccessible for research because Gardiner has yet to settle the collection with an institution. 

 

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*nowadays, the ebay seller is the other side of the commercial funnel, once lots, like the kind Gardiner found, are bought at local auctions and re-sold for as much as possible online, which always means piece by piece.         

When I checked the National WW II Museum website and didn't readily find the letters, I also google searched and found the information you mentioned. I found, through the BBC, letters from Gilbert Bradley and Gordon Bowsher. They were purchased by an art dealer who didn't initially understand they were between two men.  More to the point of your comment, in one of the letters Gordon asked Gilbert to destroy all the letters sent to him. Prior to the Sexual Offenses Act 1967 those serving in the armed forces could have been shot for same sex relations. It is hard enough to find letters between service members and loved ones, (my husband is a retired US military officer and a few years ago we jointly decided to destroy decades of letters between us for no other reason then we didn't want to keep moving them when we relocated or have family deal with them), but to understand the gravity of keeping correspondence under the possible penalty of death is unthinkable.  

Edited by 84Mags
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