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Keeping in touch

What would you say if your only means of communicating with your family was a 25 word message that would take months to arrive? iscover how the Hill family from Guernsey managed to stay in touch when the Second World War separated them by writing very short letters with the most important information they wanted to share - then have a go at writing your own. 

Don't forget to share your letters with us on IWM’s Facebook and Twitter!

Mission Briefing

Part of the Family Mission series series, created during the UK lockdown in Spring 2020


Hello, my name is Ngaire, I work for the Imperial War Museum but today I'm speaking to you from home which is a boat. While most of us across the world are self-isolating unable to see loved ones many of us are fortunate enough to stay in touch via instant messaging or video calls. Sadly, that was not the case for the Hill family from Guernsey during the Second World War.  

William and Florence were separated from two of their children when they decided to send their two eldest sons away from Guernsey. As the war in Europe got ever closer, half the islands population left but William and Florence stayed with their youngest son and William’s elderly parents. From the 30th of June 1940 they lived under German occupation cut off from the mainland; however, they found there was one way to hear news about their children and other family members who had left Guernsey. They relied on a messaging service from the Red Cross. The only catch was it could take many months for messages to arrive, and they were limited to a maximum of 25 words.  

So, while the museum doors are shut, we want you to keep in touch with us. Your mission this week is to write us a message in only 25 words or less. You can tell us anything you want to share. How are you doing? What you're up to in isolation? Who you're isolating with? Or anything you'd like to know from us. You can post your message in the comments thread below or if it's a handwritten letter take a photo and post that. We really look forward to hearing from you and if you want to know more about the Hill family just click on the link in this post. Thank you, see you again! 

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The Hill Family letters - IWM Stories

How short letters kept one family connected when war separated them.


Family Mission has been created with the generous support of Old Possum's Practical Trust