'If you're reading this...' The heartbreaking collection of last letters to loved ones from soldiers who never came home

By EMMA REYNOLDS

These are the final, moving letters written by soldiers to their families just before they died. The brave servicemen penned the missives to be read by their loved ones if they were killed. Dedicated historian Sian Price spent three years travelling the world and reading through 30,000 heart-rending letters to compile the touching collection.

Raw emotion: Eric Fox Pitt Lubbock, who died at Ypres in 1917 aged 24, wrote to his mother: 'Try to forget my faults and remember me only as your very loving son'

Soldiers' stories: Historian Sian Price spent three years travelling the world to compile the touching collection of letters, spanning wars from the 17th century to the present day

Beautiful thoughts: Michael Andrew Scott, 1916 - 1941, was killed over the English Channel. He told his father: 'That thing which we call "Life" is but a transitory stage in our development'

Poignant: Herbert Jones, 1940 - 1982, wrote cheerfully, 'I don't suppose there's any chance of anything happening to me', before he was killed at Goose Green

Then and now: The tragic messages trace common themes of love and loss, regardless of age or era. Left, Herbert Jones (1940-1982) and right, Neil 'Tony' Downes (1986-2007)

Adoring: Guardsman Neil Downes, from Manchester, wrote to girlfriend Jane before he died in Afghanistan: 'I hope you have a wonderful and fulfilling life. Get married, have children etc. I will love you forever.'

Words of comfort: Private George Henry Davies, who died aged 28 at Messines in 1917, wrote to his mother: 'I give my life willingly for my country knowing that it is given in a righteous cause'

Noble: Samuel S. Barrington, killed in 1815 in Quatre Bras, wrote: 'If some unlucky ball finished me, I trust I shall not be wholly unprepared to face danger and death'

Heartfelt farewell: Second Lieutenant Eric Heaton, from East Sussex, wrote to his parent from the Battle of the Somme: 'If I fall in battle then I have no regrets save for my loved ones I leave behind'

Affectionate: William Barclay Binning, 1897-1916, told his parents not to grieve before he was killed in Belgium

Lost: The intimate thoughts of 70 men like Binning make up a revealing collection

Sorrow in death: Gunner Lee Thornton, who was killed aged 22 in Iraq in 2006, wrote to his fiance Helen: 'I really hope that this letter never gets to you, because if it does that means I am dead'

International: Masanobu Kuno (left), a Japanese kamikaze pilot, tells his children he will be watching over them, while Ashley Goatham (right), killed in the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879, tells his mother to 'cheer up'

If You’re Reading This... is now available from Pen & Sword publishing for £19.99.

source: dailymail

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