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Dad’s Salerno elegy. By Richard Oldfield

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Eighty years ago, Richard Oldfield’s father wrote a heartbreaking tribute to two comrades, killed in battle

The 9th of September marked the 80th anniversary of Operation Avalanche, the Allied landings in Italy near Salerno. My father, Christopher Oldfield (1921-81), fought in the Italian Campaign. He had two years at Oxford before joining the Grenadier Guards in 1942. In 1943, he was sent with his battalion, the Sixth, to North Africa and thereafter to Italy. He was wounded twice, once in North Africa and once in Italy. During lockdown, I found in tin boxes half a dozen exercise books full of the poems, essays and short stories he wrote, all in pencil, while at war, and the letters he sent to his aunt. He was very close to her, both his parents being dead. He wrote to her, ‘I can tell you nothing of where I am or what I have been doing ... I wish I could say something that would make my letters to you...

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