Page last updated at 17:00 GMT, Saturday, 21 November 2009

Pilot's wartime love letters sold

Collection of Sgt Redfern's letters, photographs and medals
A grave of an "unknown" was identified as Sgt Redfern's

Letters sent by a Battle of Britain fighter pilot to his sweetheart in Norfolk have sold at auction for £2,100.

Sgt Eric Arthur Redfern wrote to Joan Preston, who would later become his wife, while serving in the RAF under the command of Douglas Bader.

The collection also included a letter informing her of his death in action in 1942, a few months after their wedding.

Photographs and medals were also sold at Ely in Cambridgeshire.

The first card in the collection was written to Miss Preston at her home in Constitution Hill, Norwich, to accept her "kind invitation" to her birthday party in March 1937.

Missing in action

Sgt Redfern, who lived in Branksome Road in the city with his parents, later wrote to his sweetheart while on holiday on the south coast and during various postings throughout the UK.

He flew Hurricanes with 232, 242 and 607 Squadrons and was stationed at various bases including Martlesham Heath in Suffolk under Wing Commander Bader.

The couple married in 1941.

In August of that year, the Air Ministry notified Mrs Redfern that her 27-year-old husband was missing in action, and in March 1942 the ministry wrote that he was presumed dead.

More than four years later, the widow received a letter explaining that a grave of an "unknown" in a military cemetery in France had been indentified as that of her husband.

It brings it home how much of a sacrifice a whole generation made
Tim Blyth, Blyth & Co

These letters were included in the lot, along with a letter confirming her RAF pension and messages from his friends and family.

Mrs Redfern remarried in 1946 and lived in Suffolk, but letters from her first husband's family reveal they remained close.

The final letter is from Sgt Refern's brother in 1958, which thanked Joan for her kindness over the years and included a cheque for £50 left to her in his father's will.

Tim Blyth, director of Blyth & Co auctioneers said "Eric and Joan's letters and keepsakes are some of the most moving items I have ever sold.

"It brings it home how much of a sacrifice a whole generation made."

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