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World War I Tuesday, 3 November, 1998, 11:44 GMT
Letters home: Forever sweethearts
Private William Martin and Emily Chitticks were engaged to be married when he was killed in action on 27 March 1917.

While he was fighting in France with the Battalion Devonshire Regiment, the couple wrote to each other as often as possible.

Emily was devastated by her fiance's death and never married. After she died in 1974 a note among her papers was found requesting that William's letters be buried with her.

France, 24 March, 1917

My dearest Emily
Just a few lines dear to tell you I am still in the land of the living and keeping well, trusting you are the same dear, I have just received your letter dear and was very pleased to get it. It came rather more punctual this time for it only took five days. We are not in the same place dear, in fact we don't stay in the same place very long... we are having very nice weather at present dear and I hope it continues... Fondest love and kisses from your
loving Sweetheart
Will
xxxxxxxxxxx

Three days after this letter William Martin was killed in action. Emily Chitticks continued to write, ignorant of his death, but oddly she changed to writing in red pen the day after William died. Five of her letters were returned marked "killed in action".

29/3/17

Mr Dearest Will
I was so delighted to get your letter this morning and know you are quite alright. I am pleased to say I am alright myself and hope dear this will find you the same. I was so pleased to hear darling that you had such a nice enjoyable evening, It was quite a treat I am sure. I don't suppose you do get much amusement.

letter
Emily's letter were returned marked 'killed in action'
I am glad you are getting my letters dear, I am not waiting until I get your letters dear now before I write because it would make it so long for you to wait for a letter, and I guess you are pleased to get as many as possible.

I can understand darling your not being able to write as frequently. I shall get used to waiting for your letters soon I guess, but at first it seems so strange after being used to having them so regularly.

Well darling I don't know any more to say now and I am feeling sleepy. Oh I wish you were here darling, but its no good wishing. Fondest love and lots of kisses from

your everloving little girl Emily
xxxxxxxxxxxx

Although records reveal that William Martin was buried, his grave was never found. He is commemorated on the Fauborg d'Amiens memorial at Arras.

The couple's letters are held in the document library at the Imperial War Museum.

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