Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Sealed With A Loving Kiss


The handsome chap on the far left is my maternal grandfather, Sydney, photographed with two pals from the Royal Engineers. Grandad transferred to the Royal Engineers Signal Service in January 1918 when his battalion, 2/7th (The Robin Hoods) of The Sherwood Foresters, disbanded.  In September that year he married his sweetheart, whom he’d met when on basic training in Watford. When they married, Syd was still only 20 years old, and my grandmother, 21. Although no letters or postcards sent between them, survive, I can imagine that they would have been very affectionate. They went on to have a long and happy marriage, until Syd’s death in 1971.

Last year, when we were visiting my son’s family in Kent, we had a day out with the grandchildren at the Royal Engineers Museum. It's an exceptionally well-planned and interesting museum, and even our seven year-old twins weren’t bored for a moment. I really enjoyed all the sepia photographs and the stories behind them. I’ve written about the Royal Engineers before in Frightened Faces and Fearless Actions, for Sepia Saturday 300, when I focussed on the brave Captain Ross and his family. What fascinated me most however, was probably the Royal Engineers Postal section.

The phrase S.W.A.L.K. (Sealed With a Loving Kiss) came from the WW2 era, but I’m sure many a letter from long before then was given the SWALK treatment; my grandparents may even have done so, but we’ll never know.

Here I am standing in front of my favourite subject, old photographs, and the stories behind them.


And here are a couple of examples of the missives displayed. The sender of the first must surely have resisted a SWALK, lest he was tempted to eat the whole lot.


And the second reminds us of just how important those letters and postcards sent from home were.


The caption reads, Airmail Letter Card with Indian Stamp, FPO 448, Qum, Persia, from L/Sgt J.E. Harvis, Royal Artillery, 6 August 1943 and opens with:

“ I was extremely bucked to receive your airgraph dated 23rd July. It may be difficult for you to realise how much mail means to us, very often it is the difference between a happy day and a miserable one. Probably more so in my case because all the incoming mail passes through my hands and you can imagine what I feel if I sort a couple of hundred letters and there is not one for me! Your letter saved the day and cheered me up immensely.”

I’ve no idea if the letter was sent to his sweetheart, nor if it was sealed with a loving kiss, but clearly , it was deemed important enough to preserve for many years.

Why not join us at today’s Sepia Saturday to see if other contributors have ‘posted with a loving kiss’.


Also linking with Magpie Tales, where Tess gave us a wonderful prompt of a character in the film 'Atonement' actually employing the SWALK treatment, and gave me the idea to write this piece.


Sealed with a warm and tender kiss,
With lips that long for yours, and miss
All the love we shared. Just read between the
Lines, and then, Dear Heart, you will
Know, how much I love you still.


© Marilyn Brindley 2016

17 comments:

  1. We had SWAK (but no L) here in the States...also from a song! I've got several letters from ancestors; some from the American Civil War, WWI, WWII and even Vietnam...they may not have been initialed, but all were sent with love.

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  2. I sent many airmail letters to Little Nell during my time in the Falkland Islands. They were always, metaphorically, if not literally, SWALK.

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  3. A biscuit made it through the mail from France to England? Amazing. Your poem for Magpie is
    lovely. Syd was very handsome indeed. Isn't it amazing that those wartime marriages lasted for so long when the participants couldn't have known each other very well.

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  4. That caption is certainly heartfelt, I can imagine his pain having to handle all those letters and none for himself. And I (want to) believe Peggy is his girlfriend. Never heard of an airgraph before, that must be an interesting museum indeed.

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  5. I don't think planting a kiss onto a computer screen improves the romantic quality of an email. I suppose a couple of Emojicons thumbed into a text message might count, but who will notice them 100 years from now?

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  6. In these days of e-mails and texts, will our children and grandchildren know the power and sentiment behind a letter SWALK? I somehow think not. A lovely take on this week's theme.

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  7. I'd never seen SWALK before. As Deb says, we have SWAK which is fine, but it wouldn't match the sweet poem that goes with the former.

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  8. I should have included the words to this oldie but goodie! "I'm gonna sit right down & write myself a letter. And make believe it came from you. I'm gonna write words oh so sweet, they're gonna knock me off'a my feet. A lotta kisses at the bottom. I'll be glad I got 'em. I'm gonna smile & say I hope you're feelin' better. And close with love the way you do. I'm gonna sit right down & write my self a letter. And I'm gonna make believe it came from you."

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  9. ITALY was another abbreviation written on the back of envelopes. There are others but many are very crude, and unlikely to be genuine. That museum sounds interesting, I must look it up and visit sometime. We are off to the UK next month but probably will have very few spare days in tge 3 weeks we are there unfortunately.

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  10. Add me to the list of those who knew only SWAK. I like the description of this museum and would definitely like to see it for myself.

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  11. This is a creative take for this week. Still scratching my head about the biscuit.

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  12. Very enjoyable post!

    Yes the biscuit amused me to! My grandmother kept all the letter that my grandfather wrote while he was on the front. Unfortunately, he didn't say much but more asked about home. I think he was really telling gran that he was still alive and not to worry about him!

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  13. So much to enjoy in this post. I have some airletters tucked away which were sent to me. I wonder if you can still buy them. I like Mike's idea of planting a kiss on the computer screen. !

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  14. There was a popular song named Sealed with a Kiss when I was in middle school. Never heard of adding the L before, but I like it! I like the poem, too...and the memories.

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  15. I have never known SWAK; how inventive they were in those hard times for married couples and for sweethearts. Great post.

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