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World War II love letter from one soldier to another

A love letter has been re-published which was written by an American World War II veteran to a fellow soldier he met, and fell in love with in 1943.

Brian Keith wrote the letter to Dave, a fellow GI stationed in North Africa, on their anniversary, and the moving letter, which ends “sleep well my love”, reminisces about time spent together, and expresses regret that Dave never made it home after the war.

The letter was reprinted in September 1961 by ONE magazine, which was a groundbreaking pro-gay magazine, first published in 1953. It was republished this week on Letters of Note.

The original is reportedly held in the Library of Congress, and the full letter is available to read below:

Dear Dave,

This is in memory of an anniversary — the anniversary of October 27th, 1943, when I first heard you singing in North Africa. That song brings memories of the happiest times I’ve ever known. Memories of a GI show troop — curtains made from barrage balloons — spotlights made from cocoa cans — rehearsals that ran late into the evenings — and a handsome boy with a wonderful tenor voice. Opening night at a theatre in Canastel — perhaps a bit too much muscatel, and someone who understood. Exciting days playing in the beautiful and stately Municipal Opera House in Oran — a misunderstanding — an understanding in the wings just before opening chorus.

Drinks at ‘Coq d’or’ — dinner at the ‘Auberge’ — a ring and promise given. The show 1st Armoured — muscatel, scotch, wine — someone who had to be carried from the truck and put to bed in his tent. A night of pouring rain and two very soaked GIs beneath a solitary tree on an African plain. A borrowed French convertible — a warm sulphur spring, the cool Mediterranean, and a picnic of ‘rations’ and hot cokes. Two lieutenants who were smart enough to know the score, but not smart enough to realize that we wanted to be alone. A screwball piano player — competition — miserable days and lonely nights. The cold, windy night we crawled through the window of a GI theatre and fell asleep on a cot backstage, locked in each other’s arms — the shock when we awoke and realized that miraculously we hadn’t been discovered. A fast drive to a cliff above the sea — pictures taken, and a stop amid the purple grapes and cool leaves of a vineyard.

The happiness when told we were going home — and the misery when we learned that we would not be going together. Fond goodbyes on a secluded beach beneath the star-studded velvet of an African night, and the tears that would not be stopped as I stood atop the sea-wall and watched your convoy disappear over the horizon.

We vowed we’d be together again ‘back home,’ but fate knew better — you never got there. And so, Dave, I hope that where ever you are these memories are as precious to you as they are to me.

Goodnight, sleep well my love.

Brian Keith

by Anonymousreply 3003/02/2013


by Anonymousreply 103/01/2013 touching, so beautiful and so, so tragic. Does anyone know what happened to either Brian or Dave? Apparently Dave got killed / died? (????)

by Anonymousreply 203/01/2013

This is exactly where my father was in 1943. He told us little except it was a very grim, awful place. It's wonderful that these two found some happiness there.

by Anonymousreply 303/01/2013

So Dave was killed, right? Or did they just never meet again?

by Anonymousreply 403/01/2013

What, do you think he ran off with Lawrence of Arabia?

Of course he was killed. Jeesh.

by Anonymousreply 503/01/2013

You don't know that, R5. It's not like they had Facebook back then... Who would have alerted this trick that his hook-up died?

by Anonymousreply 603/01/2013

Because the news of an attack on the departing convoy would have been transmitted to the company, along with the names of the lost.

by Anonymousreply 703/01/2013

I had no idea Brian Keith was bisexual. I know he committed suicide over the death of his daughter.

by Anonymousreply 803/01/2013

I find it interesting that to this day we usually consider soldiers to be these robotic brutes who kill and serve their country while putting aside their gentle souls and feelings for the time being.

by Anonymousreply 903/01/2013

I hope Mrs. Beasley never heard about this.

by Anonymousreply 1003/01/2013

Bastard was cheating on me?

by Anonymousreply 1103/01/2013

I saw this....loved it.

by Anonymousreply 1203/01/2013

Was it homosexual or platonic romance ala Brideshead Revisited?

by Anonymousreply 1303/01/2013

Oh my...I have tears running down my cheeks.

by Anonymousreply 1403/01/2013


by Anonymousreply 1503/01/2013

R9 Most of them manage both.

by Anonymousreply 1603/01/2013

What a horribly written letter. Too many dashes and fragments and loose thoughts.

by Anonymousreply 1703/02/2013

[quote]We vowed we’d be together again ‘back home,’ but fate knew better — you never got there.

Isn't that saying explicitly that Dave was killed?

by Anonymousreply 1803/02/2013

Yes, but too many DLers are not very bright.

by Anonymousreply 1903/02/2013

"A screwball piano player — competition — miserable days and lonely nights."

I wonder what that meant. Did they break up over another guy for a bit?

by Anonymousreply 2003/02/2013

R18 and R19 need to look up the definition of 'explicit'.

by Anonymousreply 2103/02/2013

where ever is one word (wherever)

by Anonymousreply 2203/02/2013

What a story! Everything but the dogs nippin' at their rear end.

by Anonymousreply 2303/02/2013

I'm such a cynical person, but that made me cry.

by Anonymousreply 2403/02/2013

"I wonder what that meant."

Miserable days - They're in the army during wartime. It wasn't pleasant.

lonely nights - They couldn't be together and alone every night. They had to bunk with many other soldiers. Surrounded by people yet they were lonely. That, or they had night duty.

by Anonymousreply 2503/02/2013

Lonely days, lonely nights. Where would I be without my woman?

by Anonymousreply 2603/02/2013

Does anyone know if this was Brian Keith the actor that wrote this? He was in WW2 btw.

by Anonymousreply 2703/02/2013

R25, your interpretation would make more sense if those phrases weren't part of the same "grouping" as the "screwball piano player" and "competition". It sounds more to me like the boyrfriend may have met someone else (who played piano), who was "competition" for the author, leading to sad days and lonely nights.

by Anonymousreply 2803/02/2013

R28: Exactly.

by Anonymousreply 2903/02/2013

Hold me, David!

by Anonymousreply 3003/02/2013
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