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I was introduced to Margaret Ratcliffe at one of our Open Evenings.
She recognised my husband Roger, whom she remembered as a young boy when, as neighbours, she and her husband Eric took him on outings to Belle Vue, in the sidecar of their motorbike.

Roger and I visited Margaret at her home in Littleborough, after being told that she had photographs in which the group might be interested. With these photos, she also gave us a bundle of letters – First World War correspondence between Bessie Whatmough and Alex Honeyman, who would go on to marry and become Margaret’s parents.

The letters, written between 1917 and 1919, were sent from sunny Wardle, as it was described by Bessie to Alex, who was stationed in several Army camps in England, France, Italy, then in far-flung and exotic Egypt, India and Syria.

Alex, who was only 17 when he began to write, was in the Royal Signals Regiment. Bessie, a year or so younger, worked in her aunt’s bakehouse on Ramsden Road in Wardle. They began as penfriends and their relationship gradually developed until they became sweethearts. They married shortly after the end of the war.
Val Jay