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Harborough Museum

Letter from an American Serviceman

Letter from an American Serviceman

The letter is full of Americanisms in both language and images – the highly stereotyped, Hollywood-style “Red Indian” at the top, and the use of words like “swell” and “gee” leave us in no doubt as to the writer’s country of origin. It is clear he made good friends with the children he is writing to, saying, “…you are all deeply placed in my heart and it will be my happy day when I come back to see you kids again.”

Interestingly, he also writes, “Fellows my letters will be dull for a while, because I can’t write you anything that’s happening.” Given the date of the letter, this is probably a reference to Operation Overlord – the D-Day landings in Normandy, 6th June 1944. In the early months of that year, thousands of American service personnel arrived in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire in preparation for D-Day. For many local people, this was the first time that they had encountered Americans and American culture outside of the cinema.

What is intriguing about the letter is that it raises many unanswered questions. We know the writer of the letter is called Marv, but we do not know his story, where he came from, how he meet the children he is writing to or what happened to him on D-Day. Marv’s beautifully illustrated letter is a wonderful example of friendship in a terrible time of conflict.

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