Sealed With a Loving Kiss

BOOK: Sealed With a Loving Kiss
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Contents

About the Book

About the Author

Also by Ellie Dean

Title Page

Acknowledgements

Author Notes

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Epilogue

Welcome to the World of Ellie Dean

Copyright

About the Book

After the death of her parents in a bombing raid, Mary Jones discovers a secret in the pages of father's diaries. Her search for the truth brings her to Cliffehaven on the south coast.

Here, she finds work at the Kodak factory, sifting through the Airgraphs which are being sent from all over the world by the men and women in the armed forces, and by their loved ones. All the while she longs for news of her own sweetheart, fighting in Europe.

With the help of Peggy Reilly and her family at Beach View Boarding House, Mary starts to build a new life for herself. But events that happened eighteen years before still echo, and should a promise Peggy made then be broken, it will have a devastating affect not only on Mary, but them all . . .

About the Author

Sealed With a Loving Kiss
is Ellie Dean's ninth novel. She lives in a tiny hamlet set deep in the heart of the South Downs in Sussex, which has been her home for many years and where she raised her three children. To find out more visit
www.ellie-dean.co.uk

Also by Ellie Dean

There'll be Blue Skies

Far From Home

Keep Smiling Through

Where the Heart Lies

Always in My Heart

All My Tomorrows

Some Lucky Day

While We're Apart

Sealed With a Loving Kiss
Ellie Dean

 

 

Acknowledgements

Jim Reilly's voyage to India and the contents of his many airgraphs would not have been so realistic if I hadn't had the privilege of being entrusted with the diaries of Kenneth Douglas Fowler who made the same journey. I'm indebted and hugely grateful to Jean Relf and her brother David Fowler for lending me these precious memoirs, for they have given me a real insight into the language of the day and the experiences these men went through during their service to their country.

I would also like to acknowledge the help, advice and encouragement I've received from my brilliant agent, Teresa Chris, who has never faltered in her enthusiasm to do her best for me so I may reach my goals.

Thanks also go to Georgina Hawtrey-Woore, who has been a wonderful editor throughout the series. Her enthusiasm and encouragement have been a great spur, and it's marvellous to have an editor who sees things in the same way that I do.

Last, but never least, I need to thank my darling husband, Ollie, who has provided coffee, suppers, a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen. I couldn't have achieved any of this without him.

Author Notes

The airgraph was invented in the 1930s by the Eastman Kodak Company in conjunction with Imperial Airways (now British Airways) and Pan-American Airways as a means of reducing the weight and bulk of mail carried by air. The airgraph forms, upon which the letter was written, were closely inspected and censored before being photographed and then sent as negatives on rolls of microfilm to all the theatres of war. At their destination, the negatives were enlarged and printed on photographic paper and delivered through the Royal Engineers (postal section), also known as APS (Army Postal System).

The use of the airgraph was not rationed, and its postage was set at three pence (3d) for civilians, but free to members of the armed forces. It proved to be instantly popular, with approximately 2,000 being processed an hour. Yet, because of its size – approximately 4ins x 6ins – and the lack of privacy, it was limited, so when sufficient aircraft capacity became available, its use declined in favour of the air letter.

A historical note
: a similar system was employed during the Franco–Prussian War, when carrier pigeons were used to send primitive microfilm strips across German lines. The creator of microfilm was the British scientist John Dancer in 1839, and it was the French optician René Dagron who added his first microfilm patent to Dancer's work in 1859.

Chapter One
Cliffehaven, 1942

PEGGY REILLY WAS
restless after her long, intimate talk with young Mary Jones, and she lay awake staring into the darkness, thinking of the tangled web of lies and secrets that she must keep to herself. It had been imperative to dissuade Mary from continuing to ask about Cyril Fielding, for the truth, if told, would cause lasting hurt not only to little Mary, but to others who'd been innocently drawn into Tommy Findlay's deception. And yet she'd hated the subterfuge, for it went against her open and honest nature, and she knew how easily lies could be uncovered – and when they were, they inevitably brought more hurt than ever.

Her thoughts whirled and she eventually became impatient with them. There was nothing more she could do except keep an eye on the girl and make sure there was no further trouble from Tommy Findlay, for Mary was determined to stay in Cliffehaven, and she would have been deeply suspicious if Peggy had forced the issue and tried to persuade her to go back to Sussex.

She climbed out of bed. Pulling her old dressing gown over her long winceyette nightdress, she put on her slippers and quietly checked on Daisy before she left the room. Her baby was almost a year old now, born on the terrible day that Pearl Harbor had been destroyed and Malaya had been invaded, but she could sleep through anything, and was thriving despite the restrictions of rationing, the noise of air raids and the absence of most of her family.

Beach View Boarding House was silent but for the occasional creak and groan from the Victorian timbers, and Peggy closed the kitchen door before turning on the light. The kettle was always left filled in case there was a bombing raid and the water supply was cut off, so she placed it on the hob of her Kitchener range and waited for it to boil.

She had lived at Beach View for most of her forty-three years, and it was so much a part of her that she couldn't imagine living anywhere else. Her parents had started the boarding house business shortly after the railway line had reached Cliffehaven and the popularity of seaside holidays soared. When they had retired, Peggy and her husband, Jim, had taken over and raised their family here. The day trippers and holidaymakers had stopped coming once war had been declared, and so Peggy had decided that to make ends meet she would have to take in permanent lodgers.

But the war had brought huge changes to Peggy's family, for they were now scattered to the four winds and she rarely saw them. She regarded the photographs with longing, for they were lined up on the mantelpiece below the framed picture of the King and Queen. Jim looked handsome in his army uniform, the twinkle in his dark Irish eyes undimmed as he gazed back at her. He'd been called up and was on his way to India now, and she was waiting impatiently for his next airgraph.

Her two young sons, Charlie and Bob, were down in Somerset on a friend's farm with her eldest daughter Anne, who'd recently had her second baby. Peggy had yet to see Emily Jane, and little Rose Margaret would be changing so fast that she was probably unrecognisable from the toddler she'd said goodbye to all those months ago.

There was a photograph of Anne and her husband, Commander Martin Black, who looked very handsome in his RAF uniform – but she knew how Anne worried about him, even though he was flying a desk now he'd done more than his share of sorties over enemy territory. Their enforced separation had come shortly after Rose Margaret had been born, and Peggy knew just how deeply they both suffered from it.

The photograph of Cissy, her middle daughter, showed a laughing, fair-haired girl of twenty-one in a WAAF uniform. She'd once had dreams of joining ENSA and becoming famous like Vera Lynn, but thankfully she'd grown out of such silliness and had settled down very nicely at Cliffe aerodrome, where she drove an Air Vice-Marshall about.

Peggy gave a sigh as she ran her fingers through her dark curls. Cissy was in love with Randolph Stevens, a young American bomber pilot, but there were almost continuous raids over Germany now, and too many of those brave young boys had not made it home. As Cissy had already lost several friends to this terrible war, Peggy fretted that her daughter would suffer even more heartache should anything happen to Randy.

Unwilling to dwell on such dark thoughts, Peggy looked at the small black-and-white snapshot of the lovely girls who were lodged with her at Beach View Boarding House. It had been taken in the back garden at the beginning of the summer, and despite the restrictions of wartime and the long hours they worked, they looked happy as they gathered around a smiling Cordelia.

Cordelia Finch was well into her late seventies – her age was a closely guarded secret – and she'd been living at Beach View for years. Small and birdlike, with a propensity to twitter, she was aptly named, and had become an intrinsic part of Peggy's family. All the girls adored her and were very patient with her when she tangled her knitting or switched off her hearing aid, which could lead to some very odd conversations.

Peggy looked at them all and smiled. They were her chicks, and she adored them. There were Cordelia's great-nieces, Sarah and Jane, who'd escaped from Malaya just before the fall of Singapore; Irish Fran with her wild mop of autumnal curls; and her friend and fellow nurse, Suzy, who was fair and elegant and about to marry Peggy's nephew, Anthony.

Then there was little dark-haired Rita, who'd been Cissy's childhood friend and whose father was away with the army. She'd lost her mother while still very young, and had come to live at Beach View after the slum housing behind the station had been smashed to smithereens by fire bombs and she'd been made homeless. Rita was a tomboy who liked nothing better than to race about on her motorbike, but when the photograph had been taken, she was wearing a pretty dress instead of the usual WWI flying helmet and fleece-lined leather jacket, boots and weatherproof trousers.

Rita too had found love amongst the ranks of the airmen up at Cliffe, and she shared the same fears as Cissy every time they heard the squadrons leave the runway. Matthew Champion was a Spitfire pilot and also under the command of Anne's husband Martin, and, to Peggy's mind, was far too young to be doing such a dangerous job. Yet despite his youth, he was a dedicated and skilful pilot, and Martin had nothing but praise for him.

Peggy snapped out of her thoughts and let her gaze alight on Kitty Pargeter, who stood on the edge of the happy group. She'd come to Beach View after she'd lost her leg in a plane crash, and had left this house a bride shortly before Jim had come home on embarkation leave last month. She was married now to Roger Makepeace, who was her pilot brother's wingman, also at Cliffe, and had returned to the ATA, where she was still delivering aircraft all over the country. There had been a letter from her only the other day, saying how happy she was despite the fact she and Roger rarely managed to get time off to be together.

Peggy made the pot of tea and then sat looking at each of the photographs, remembering all the other girls who'd come to her for shelter. She still heard from most of them, but it had been a while since she'd heard from Danuta, the Polish girl who'd come to Beach View looking for her brother. He'd been killed whilst on a raid over Germany, and Danuta had stayed on for a while before she left for some mysterious posting in London. There had only been a few letters from her, but in the past months there had been nothing, and Peggy was beginning to worry that something might have happened to her.

BOOK: Sealed With a Loving Kiss
12.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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