Excerpt from ‘Telegraph’, UK

Touching letters from WW2 soldier to his pacifist brother
One was a pacifist whose principles prevented him fighting in the Second World War, the other signed up took part in the gruelling campaigns to push the Germans out of North Africa and then Italy.

A letter from Douglas to Clarence Dover dated Sept 1 1943.
Now, letters between two brothers have emerged, almost 70 years after the conflict ended.
The correspondence was sent from Douglas Dover, serving in the Royal Army Service Corps, to his older brother Clarence, who had joined the Friends Ambulance Unit, a Quaker-run organisation with whom he was stationed in China.
The letters show the closeness of the pair, despite their different beliefs. Douglas, a driver, recounts his experiences in the heat of Africa coming under attack from the Germans, and then as his unit advances through Italy.
He described seeing an eruption of Vesuvius as “a marvellous sight with a column of smoke miles high with the base a mass of fire” and referred to Naples as “a city now famous for racketeers and filth.”
The brothers’ mother Ada died of a heart attack while both sons were overseas. Douglas wrote: “I know it will be a shock to you, I cannot believe it yet, or rather I can’t take it in yet. We lost the one who we all loved so much.”
When Douglas was granted a period of leave, in August 1945, he told his brother: “Only one thing is missing and that is that you will not be there, but maybe will we be together soon.”
On his arrival back home in Nottingham, he sent another letter telling Clarence: “Nottingham looks very much the same as when we left, but the girls seem to have lost all sense of moral control.”
The letters continue until May 1946, when Douglas was about to return to Nottingham again. The collection ends with the line: “Well C, I will not make this a very long one. For the folks do not know I’m coming … cheerio for now, my next letter will most likely be from home.”
Douglas died in 1989 and Clarence in 2001. The letters were found by Clarence’s daughter June Cobley, 61, from Beeston, Nottinghamshire. She said: “I am really proud of my dad for refusing to fight. I could not have done that at the age of 20.
“We never quite knew what his family’s reaction was at the time but I have a letter from his mother in which she said she was standing by him.
“She wrote to him: ‘I shall have the satisfaction of knowing that you have laboured for the benefit of peace’.
“My father did not talk about it much. In some ways, I think he was braver not to fight because of the pressure that was on him.”

See: The Chocolate Soldier: story of a conchie by Hazel Barker. Story based on Clarence Dover during World War Two.



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10 responses to “Excerpt from ‘Telegraph’, UK

  1. Gail M Berryman

    Hello Hazel,
    Congratulations for your long focus on your writing. Courage is not lacking in the lives of these two brothers. You have done well.
    God bless you,

  2. Jeanette Macpherson

    Hello – I’ve just come across an entry in my father’s diary which says – Clarence Dover wedding, 3 p.m. Church of Christ, Wednesday 22nd September 1948, Nurses Assembly Hall, Hucknall – assume that was where the reception was to be held! Hope this was your Clarence’s happy event! Best wishes, Jeanette

    • How lovely to hear from you, Jeanette. Yes, that was my uncle Clarence’s wedding. Does your father’s diary mention Clarence elsewhere too? I’d love to know, as I’m writing a book about him.

      • Netta Walters

        What a surprise! Wasn’t expecting a response so quickly! My father was Geoffrey E Macpherson of Nottingham and – at the back of my mind – I seem to remember Clarence Dover being talked about or written about in the past??? But sadly don’t have access to Dad’s diaries apart from the odd one, e.g. the 1948 one. Will put my thinking cap on because am sure I’ve got something else actually written by Clarence about my Dad – will definitely get back to you if and when I find it. Did Clarence work for Dad – Geoffrey E Macpherson, West Bridgford, Nottingham I wonder?? Textiles being the main activity (machinery and yarns). Dad was also a Quaker which could be the connection – he belonged to Nottingham Meeting. Whilst Dad’s business went into liquidation after his death, there is still a lot of stuff on the internet about the company and him which you may find of interest.

        Thanks again for your reply. Best wishes Jeanette

      • Netta Walters

        Hello again – regarding Clarence Dover. I’ve saved two articles about him, the first appearing in the Nottingham Post, August 12th 2013 about Clarence, which you’ve no doubt already got. The second one dates back to 3 March 2006 – again giving details about Clarence in addition stating the following:

        “After the war Mr Dover went to work for Nottingham Quaker Geoffrey Macpherson and became a successful export salesman with several local firms before his retirement at the age of 65.” Thought I’d got more about him but still don’t know why I saved those items! The diary entry only came to light very recently.


  3. Thanks for the information, Jeanette. I’ll e-mail you later.

  4. Hope you received my e-mail, Jeanette.

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