By Liana Jacob
HEART-MELTING nineteenth and twentieth century photographs from a book reveal a tragic WW2 love story of a couple who fell in love only to be parted by war before they were finally separated forever.
Based around love-letters that lay forgotten in the family attic, vintage pictures from the book include the portraits of Mary and David Francis in 1938, the year the two met and fell madly in love.
The pictures make up a book, Letters From The Suitcase, written by Mary and David’s daughter, Rosheen Finnigan, and her husband Cal Finnigan.
A portrait of Mary as a child resembles that of her daughter’s. Rosheen describes in the book the remarkable moment she stumbled across old letters written by Mary, from Ireland, and David, from England, while they were apart.
Another photograph paints the picture of what it was like to be living in Britain around that time with at least seven suited men in their navy uniforms, including David.
The love story follows a 21-year-old woman who bumps into a privately educated 19-year-old man at a party in 1938, and fell instantly in love.
In May 1938, Mary Moss, then just 21-year-old, went to a party at a friend’s flat in north London and ended up meeting the love of her life.
The party was running low on glasses, so Mary went to the flat upstairs, where David, a young accountant, opened the door, the two fell in love instantly.
The following year, they got married in secret regardless of their parents’ negative views about their relationship.
A year on Mary Moss becomes Mary Francis as the two lovebirds get married.
Other images illustrate the family through the years, including a charming picture of Mary and Rosheen shyly posing next to each other.
“The letters lay in a trunk in the attic throughout my childhood- the neglect and mystery of them proving an almost-tangible barrier, forbidding prying,” Rosheen said in the book.
“For although all other traces of my father rapidly disappeared – photos, records, and Griselda, his wonderful gramophone with its huge leather horn – the letters she kept with her for the rest of her life.
Mary lived in London for most of her life and throughout their love story she and David would send each other letters as a means to communicate when they were apart.
David applied for a commission in the navy and they were apart from the year of 1939.
Their love story was tragically cut short when David was sent away to India with the Intelligence Services and contracted Small Pox that killed him on May 28, 1943.
Despite his passing, five months on, Mary would still be receiving letters from him. Rosheen was only three-years-old when her father died and the last time she saw him was when she was the young age of two.
“In her old age in Dublin she would tantalise me with them, a few glimpses, a few given – and then taken back,” Rosheen said.
“Then finally, before her death, she gave me them all, and in doing so she gave me my father.
“From their meeting in May 1938 until his death in India in May 1943 they wrote constantly; in their first year sometimes only hours after parting, such was the intensity of the relationship, with extra thoughts about love and life.”
Letters From the Suitcase is available on Amazon for £15.90 here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Letters-Suitcase-Cal-Finnigan/dp/1472243978/ref=sr_1_119?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499868979&sr=1-119