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February the month of romance

Debbie Porter

A wartime love story…….

On occasion at Potteries Auctions we come across an interesting lot that tells us a story. So, how relevant for February, with Valentine’s Day on the horizon that Lot 934 is a historical love story in a box.

During WWII a young Lance Corporal in the Royal Engineers, Eric Raymond Stretch from Birmingham was stationed in Austria where he met a young Austrian lady called Ernestina. They fell in love, but as was the law for British soldiers during the war they were not allowed to marry. Throughout the war they kept in contact via letter until eventually after the war ended Eric arranged for Ernestina to come over to England where they later married.

In the 1950’s Ernestina’s parents also left Austria to make a new life with their daughter and son-in-law in Birmingham, bringing with them all their family letters and photographs. Amongst their belongings was an interesting selection of propagander photographs from the war. Hitler ousted the Austrian Prime Minister and took control of the army and emergency services, including  Ernestina’s father who was a military fireman. There are photographs of the germans marching into Austria and also one of Ernestina’s young cousin being hugged by a smiling Hitler, probably taken to imply that Hitler had a softer side!

This collection of military ephemera includes paperwork, documents and various love letters to and from  Eric and Ernestina, also documents and photographs of Ernestina’s Austrian family along with German propaganda photos taking over Austrian towns before the war and various German Army papers, stamped pass book, id card and other items of interest.

Eric and Ernestina lived a long and happy life in Birmingham which is apparent from this lot. If you are looking for a true insight into what life was like during this snapshot in history then lot 934 could be for you. 

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